5 hybrid work best practices for workplace leaders
To master anything requires practice. Whether you want to excel at a sport, become a better manager, or perfect an art form, there’s almost always a learning curve. The same is true for adopting a hybrid work model. This flexible model of work has many benefits—improved employee productivity, real estate cost savings, and workplace satisfaction to name a few.
But if you’re not careful, like any major organizational change, adopting hybrid work can lead to a decline in workplace experience, retention, and productivity. To reap the benefits of this flexible model of work, you need to make the workplace a space employees want to spend their time. In this post, we’ll go over five hybrid work best practices you should follow to help your company and its employees get the most out of this model of work.
1 – Gather employee feedback on a regular basis
Listening to your employees is critical to making hybrid work a success. Be sure to keep an open line of communication with your people as you’re thinking through changes to the workplace that may impact them. Ideally, the changes you make will be a win for your organization and its employees.
For example, when developing workplace schedules, you should be sure to get your employees’ points of view. One of the biggest benefits of adopting a hybrid work model from their perspective is having more flexibility in how and where they work. However, if their schedules don’t suit their needs then what could have been a benefit may instead be a drawback.
Consider creating a cross-functional workplace committee that includes employee representatives. This way, when it comes to making decisions, like the best way to proceed with scheduling, you’ll have multiple employee perspectives.
It’s a good idea to have more than one method for gathering employee feedback. You should also create a feedback channel on Slack or an “always-on” survey. This will ensure that employees can continue to give feedback as you roll out changes to the workplace, so you can improve your programs over time.
Finally, be sure to proactively ask your people for feedback. Employees have a lot on their plates and may not always think to share their thoughts on a new program or space arrangement. Be sure to ping them at least once a quarter with specific questions about changes you plan to make to the workplace.
2 – Communicate with your people
To succeed with a hybrid work model, communication is key. Yet 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communications strategy. This could be why many companies found it difficult to switch from a traditional work model to remote work during the pandemic.
Adopting a hybrid work model will no doubt require decision-making that will impact some or all of your workforce. As a workplace leader, it’s your job to ensure your people know what’s going on with the workplace in the midst of broader organizational changes. It’s important that you know who is impacted by these decisions, as well as how and when you’ll communicate changes to employees. Your communication strategy should cover:
- Who your audience is
- What your message to them will be
- What channels you’ll use to communicate
It’s also helpful to do a pre-mortem with workplace stakeholders to plan for any challenges that may arise once you send any communications out. This will ensure your team can act fast, if needed, to address any questions or concerns people may have.
3 – Work with HR and IT to ensure workplace tech is seamless
Your company’s tech stack is crucial to providing employees a seamless workplace experience in a hybrid work model. According to Gartner, IT spending in companies will grow by 6.2% in 2021 alone.
To ensure you’re making the right investments, collaborate closely with your company’s HR and IT teams. HR should have insight into the kinds of tools that employees need to be productive while on-site. IT will make sure people’s infrastructures can support the networking connections necessary for hybrid work. They’ll also help your company right-size its investments so you don’t accumulate tech debt as you finesse your hybrid workplace tech stack.
When you’re adopting a new model of work, it can be easy to over-invest in workplace tech trends. By partnering with IT and HR, you can strike the right balance between adopting tools your employees are excited about and ensuring you don’t invest in unnecessary technologies that no one wants or needs.
4 – Get the right space types down
One of the biggest challenges companies face with hybrid work is making the most of their physical space. A poorly managed space can lead to empty-feeling working environments. And that can demotivate employees to work on-site.
Workplace leaders can solve this by introducing the right space types—space that encourages, engage and empowers their employees. Here are three examples of space types you might include at your workplace:
- Assigned spaces – These are individual and personal spaces, such as desks, cubicles, and offices
- Hot desk areas – These are spaces with desks that employees can book for the day
- Informal meeting areas – This is where employees can meet casually and take breaks
You should also keep employee safety in mind as you plan your space. Be sure to set up proper social distancing protocols like spacing desks out and enforcing capacity limits. You can also use a visitor management system to ensure you know exactly who’s visiting, when, and why.
5 – Find ways to delight remote and on-site employees
People need to experience moments of delight when they’re at the workplace. Since employees may have all the resources they need at home to get their work done, the workplace needs to have a special X factor to entice them to come in on a regular basis.
At the same time, the point of a hybrid work model is to allow employees the flexibility to work remote some days. On days your people are not on-site, it’s important to keep them engaged with what’s going on in the workplace. Here are a few examples of things your team can try in order to accomplish that:
- Organize workplace activities that include remote employees. For example, you can have a virtual karaoke contest, external guest speaker, or casual happy hours
- Create a Slack group that encourages people to take part in a daily photo challenge or question of the day. These are easy for anyone to participate in, regardless of their location
- To delight on-site employees, try adding drink stations throughout the workplace so employees can help themselves to coffee and tea. This will also help spark interactions between employees who may not work together on a regular basis
These may seem like small actions, but together they help build a people-centric workplace experience. And that’s key to getting people engaged with what’s going on in the workplace and excited about coming in to work.
As a workplace leader, it’s your job to ensure that workplace communications, technologies, space management, and experience all operate smoothly. By following these hybrid work best practices, you’ll build a place that meets your people’s needs for flexibility and is a space they’re compelled to work.
Want to learn more about how to help your employees thrive in a hybrid work model? Download our ebook, How to identify and solve hybrid work challenges.